Long-term Review: Garmin Zumo 220 GPS

I have ridden my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 with a Garmin Zumo 220 GPS several thousand miles, through all kinds of weather, over the past year and have a follow-up long-term review.

This unit has been up into Canada with me and around Washington, Oregon, and California. In that amount of time a few issues have cropped up, one of which has proven to be very inconvenient.

Because the unit doesn’t snap into a connected docking station, I have to plug a mini-USB cable into the back of it before mounting it into its cradle. This doesn’t take very long, maybe 15 seconds more than it should, but that’s not a big deal. The problem is that when I’m stopped, even if I turn the unit off using it’s power button, it still draws power as long as it’s plugged in. I forgot to do so on two different occasions and both times it completely drained my battery within 36 hours. Fortunately both times occurred when it was parked in my garage at home. If this had happened when on a big trip the inconvenience would have had me tossing the confounded thing into a ditch or against a brick wall.

I had my local motorcycle shop rewire the power cable so that it was integrated into the ignition switch circuit. Theoretically this should have disconnected power to the unit whenever the ignition switch was off. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Regardless of how I wired the unit, if I power it off with its own power button, it should halt the current draw and protect my battery charge.

On a recent trip to Canada, I also noticed the unit would spontaneously reboot itself while I was traveling down the road. There was no obvious cause or trigger for this behavior. Fortunately it came back up after a few minutes and it maintained the route I had programmed in it at the time. However, this is an unnecessary distraction and a potential inconvenience. It also makes me lose faith in the unit’s reliability.

I am currently researching a new GPS unit for my bike that uses a docking cradle rather than a cable. I will also verify the power cable is in fact disconnected when the ignition to the bike is in the OFF position. If anyone knows of a unit that meets my requirements, please post the make and model in the comments section.

Ohlen’s Arrow character study: Mella

This is the next installment in a series where I introduce key characters from my new novel, Ohlen’s Arrow. Rather than doing the predictable thing — focusing on Ohlen, the main character — I’m introducing the other key participants, his friends and enemies.

Mella and Ohlen grew up together in the village of Tarun. Whereas Ohlen was orphaned at a young age, Mella had a wonderful childhood growing up with her twin sister, Ranael, until tragedy struck. At the age of six, Ranael went missing without a trace.

Perhaps because of this, and in general because of the harsh nature of living in a remote village with all the dangers that presents, Mella grew into a strong-willed woman nearly fearless in her devotion to her husband, Scarn, and her two children, six-month old daughter Mirra and nineteen year old son Therran.

Mella has deep brown eyes and long, straight sandy blonde hair unlike most residents of Tarun that have dark brown or black hair. She stands 5′ 6″ tall and has a fit body. She has a ready smile and a joyous laugh, but can also take on a stern and no-nonsense demeanor when she or her family are threatened.

Most adults in Tarun learn to use at least one weapon because of the constant threat of attack from cru’gan, and Mella excelled at the use of a bow. She’s not quite as accurate as Ohlen, but few people are.

Mella is intensely loyal to those she loves, and being a mother, is also capable of great tenderness and kindness.

Trip reports and revisions to my book

I just got back from two separate motorcycle trips, one up through British Columbia to southeast Alaska, and the other down to the northern California coast. When I take trips such as these, I carry a paper journal and write notes about what happens on a daily basis.

Upon returning home, I compile these notes into ride reports that I post on my other blog, Two-Wheeled Astronaut.

Once I was back home and settled, I got cracking on revisions to Ohlen’s Arrow and was able to get them completed. The next step is to hire a professional editor to go over the manuscript. My goal is to get the book back on the e-shelves by the end of August.

If you know of a professional editor — that means it’s their day job, not just something they do on the side — please drop me a line.

Ride Report: Taking the GSX-R750 to Northern California

After returning home from a 2,800 mile ride up through British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska on my V-Strom, I stayed home a full day and two nights to regroup. Then I left Monday morning on my 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 and headed south. The intent was to work my way to Fortuna on the northern California coast, then spend a day riding the loop inland on highways 299, 3 and 36, then backtrack my way home. It’s a five-day ride.
The ride to Coos Bay was pleasant and I had excellent weather for it. I went south through Estacada, Molalla, and Scio, and confusing Lebanon before heading west on highway 34 to Philomath. I gassed up and ate a snack at McDonalds under wonderful sunny skies.
The stretch of highway 34 from Philomath through Alsea and into Waldport was like butter. There is very little traffic, the pavement is in excellent shape, and the blend of curves is like butter. The Gixxer barely broke a sweat, nor did I.
I stopped along the sea wall in Waldport to give my ass and back a rest. It was foggy and there was the faintest bit of salty mist in the air.
It was much cooler heading down the coast on famous Highway 101 than it would have been if I’d stayed in the Willamette Valley. The temperatures there were forecasted to get into heat-wave territory.
The Gixxer ran great. That bike makes me think a Swiss watchmaker and an Olympic athlete hooked up and had a kid. It’s not comfortable like Lay-Z-Boy, though. By the time I reached Fortuna, my butt hurt and my left knee ached a bit, but depending on how I time my rest breaks, I can almost go the same distance in a day on the GSX-R as I can on the V-Strom.
Almost.

 

Dinner that evening was a Paulaner Oktoberfest beer, salad, and beef rolls at the Blue Heron German restaurant a few blocks away from my motel. Thinly sliced beef roast wrapped around thick-slicked bacon, stone ground mustard, and a pickle in the center, covered with rich gravy. Yummy!

Ride Report: Day 2, Coos Bay, OR to Fortuna, CA

I slept well. The complimentary Best Western breakfast wasn’t too bad, especially compared to many others, with plenty of protein options and surprisingly good coffee.
It misted during the night so I had to wipe the dew off my bike before loading up. While watching a rerun of M.A.S.H. in my motel room last night, I heard Colonel Potter say something profound:
“The only guy I have to beat is the man I am right now.”
The ride continued south on Highway 101 and was pleasant with mostly cool air and occasional fog for dramatic effect. I stopped frequently because I had a short distance to travel and a long time to get there (unlike my previous trip to B.C.) Lunch was at the Subway in Crescent City.
Along the way I detoured through Prairie Creek Redwoods park and took a photo of a large bull elk, still in the velvet, having a lay-down snack in the brush.
Other than some slow drivers and a smattering of construction delays, it was an uneventful ride.
Dinner was piping hot fajitas and organic ale while chatting up the locals at the Eel River Brewery next door to the Super 8 in Fortuna.

 

Quote of the day: “I’m not one-dimensional but sometimes I make a good point.”